Entertainment

This is the most important week of the year for movie theater owners

Key Points
  • The eight days between Dec. 24 and Dec. 31 can account for as much as 5% of the year's total box office receipts.
  • On average, the week between Christmas Eve and New Year's Eve equates to between $400 million and $600 million in ticket sales.
  • As of Sunday, the U.S. box office had tallied around $10.83 billion in ticket sales, about $1 billion shy of 2018's total.
Emma Watson, Florence Pugh, Eliza Scanlen and Saoirse Ronan star in "Little Women."
Columbia Pictures | Sony

It's the biggest week of the year for movie theater owners.

With time off from work and school, more people head to cinemas to catch the latest blockbusters and holiday releases.

"We are busiest when everyone is not," Brock Bagby, executive vice president at B&B Theatres, said.

The eight days between Dec. 24 and Dec. 31 can account for as much as 5% of the year's total box office receipts, according to data from Comscore.

For B&B Theaters, the sixth largest theater chain in North America, that figure could be even higher. Bagby said in 2015, the company made 10% of its annual box office during that one holiday week.

"It's almost like having what we would consider a very busy Saturday every day of the week," Rolando Rodriguez, CEO and president of Marcus Theaters, said.

Theater owners are particularly optimistic this holiday season because of the wide array of films that will be available. Blockbusters like "Jumanji: The Next Level," "Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker" and "Frozen II" continue to attract moviegoers and have high replay value.

Meanwhile, "Little Women" will bring in female audience members, while "Spies in Disguise" is a family-friendly feature. Both open widely on Christmas Day. "Uncut Gems," which opened last week, could snag the art-house film fans and bring them to the theaters. Then there are films like "Knives Out," "The Lighthouse" and "Parasite," which continue to draw in viewers.

"There's quite a lot of movies that have a lot of people's attention," Patrick Corcoran, vice president and chief communications officer for the National Association of Theater Owners, said.

He pointed to a recent Fandango survey that suggested the core group of people aged 18 to 34 planned on seeing at least two movies during the holiday week.

Tom Holland and Will Smith star in "Spies in Disguise."
Disney | 20th Century Fox

"It's become a real tradition for people," Corcoran said of people going to the movies on Christmas Day or during the holiday week.

On average, the week between Christmas Eve and New Year's Eve equates to between $400 million and $600 million in ticket sales, according to data from Comscore.

As of Sunday, the U.S. box office had tallied around $10.83 billion in ticket sales, about $1 billion shy of 2018's total. With a traditional holiday turnout, the box office should end the year just under 4% behind 2018.

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Disclosure: Comcast, the parent company of CNBC, owns Fandango.